One hundred East African women entrepreneurs were announced winners of the inaugural 2019 2X Invest2Impact at a ceremony in Kigali on 24th November. The event was part of Global Gender Summit 2019.
2X Invest2Impact, which seeks to increase the number of women-owned businesses, was organized and launched by the development finance institutions (DFIs) of Canada (FinDev Canada), the United Kingdom (CDC Group plc), France (Proparco) and the United States (OPIC), in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation.
Winners were awarded entry into one of four program tracks comprising: 2Xcelerate for businesses that could qualify for DFI investment; 2Xcapital for ventures looking for non-DFI funding; 2Xcrowd for businesses with the potential for crowdfunding; and 2Xcatalyze for networking and profile-building.
Winners get capital
The 100 women will make up the founders of 2Xconnect, an online community dedicated to African women entrepreneurs. It is designed to support collaboration, leadership, and the development of key business skills.
It will be a place to share, support, learn, and celebrate the power of East African women business leaders who are positively impacting their communities, countries and continent. They comprise 31 Kenyans, 26 Tanzanians, 15 Rwandans, 10 Ugandans and 18 Ethiopians.
The initiative was launched to provide these entrepreneurs with networking opportunities, mentorship, business development services, visibility and access to funding, to enable their businesses to thrive and grow.
Four Invest2Impact winners were also recognized for their outstanding impact on Women, Youth, Social Innovation, and the Environment:
Women Empowerment – $ 25,000
To recognise real empowerment and participation of women in the boardroom and in the workplace won by Blandine Umiziranenge of Kosmotive from Rwanda. Kosmotive was founded in 2014 to improve Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health in Rwanda.
The Kosmos Magazine is a print and online periodical that offers interesting child and maternal health and lifestyle information to young women and mothers in Rwanda. It provides parenting advice for a wide net of readership, including fathers, young people and anyoneinterested in the wellbeing of families.
Youth Employment or Entrepreneurship – $20,000
To recognise a business that empowers youth and inspiring them to be tomorrow’s leaders, won by Beryl Anyiti Walubengo of Crystal Africa Cleaning Service Limited from Kenya. The organisation is committed to employing youth with no access to tertiary education. Given that its service delivery requires unskilled labour, Crystal Africa Cleaning Services Limited developed a training program that the youth undertake, before placement on client sites.
On completion, one is given a job and allowed to advance in a career within the organization. The skills provided include computer skills, service operations procedures, first aid and customer service. Today, the entire 70 staff and shareholders at the organization are youth under 35 with responsibilities in management and service delivery.
Social Innovation – $ 20,000
To recognise the use of technology or innovative approaches to improve lives and support healthy communities, won by Yvette Ishimwe of Iriba Water Group Limited from Rwanda. Iriba Water Group Ltd’s three-fold business model’s target is to avail safe drinking water to people while also fighting against climate change. This has been achieved by eradicating usage of single-use plastic bottles through the supply of IRIBA reusable water containers for customers to refill water and hence avoid single-use plastic water bottles.
The solar-powered water ATMs are placed in different areas of the city, particularly very congested areas such as markets, car parking stations, hospitals, etc. Thanks to this refilling process, safe, clean drinking
water becomes very affordable particularly for low-income earners who were otherwise unable to afford clean drinking water with existing bottled water solutions.
Climate Change and the Environment – $ 20,000
To recognize a business that is working to address climate change and promote a green economy, won by Lucy Mutinda of Ecocycle Ltd from Kenya. Ecocycle Ltd, converts onsite SEWAGE (Wastewater) to CLEAN REUSABLE WATER, Treatment & Recycling Technology. The Technology converts harmful Sewage to Safe clean water for non-potable uses in 8 hours.
It incorporates smart technology to automatically run the treatment process as well as requiring minimal energy that can be supplied from Green renewable sources e.g. Solar, Wind and Geothermal. This is installed to end-users and premises that lack Municipal sewer connection which stands at 70% in Kenya.
The one hundred winners were selected based on their impact, vision, and purpose. The final judging panel included representatives of DFIs and funding partners, crowd-funding platforms, and regional business associations as well as notable private sector leaders representing each country in the region.
The competition received nearly 800 entries compliant with the minimum entry criteria of being in business for a minimum of three years, processing $50,000 in sales and assets, and having at least five employees. Entries came from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Launched in July 2019, the 2X Invest2Impact competition focuses on established women-owned businesses at the growth stage, poised for investment capital.
The 2X Challenge
The G7 DFIs – FinDev Canada, the United Kingdom (CDC), the United States (Overseas Private Investment Corporation – OPIC), Italy (Cassadepositi e presiti – Cdp), France (Proparco) and Japan (JBIC and JICA), and Germany (DEG) – established the 2X Challenge at the 2018 G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Québec, Canada. The initiative aims to mobilize $3 billion by 2020 for investment in business and funds that empower women. As of August 1, 2019, members of the 2X Challenge estimate that close to $ 2.5 billion have already been mobilized.
Since its announcement in June 2018, five new member nations have joined the 2X Challenge: The Netherlands (Netherlands Development Finance Company), Finland (Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation), Sweden (Swedfund), Denmark (Investment Fund for Developing Countries), and Switzerland (SIFEM).